So how does a movie disaster like “Amsterdam” happen? For those of us on the outside looking in, we can only speculate.
David O. Russell has written and directed several great movies, including “Joy” – 2015 (outstanding), “Silver Linings Playbook” – 2012 (outstanding), and “American Hustle” – 2013 (good). Writing a screenplay can take a very long time, especially if the writer is a perfectionist – which is probably the case with Russell.
So what does a highly respected screenwriter do, after so much hard work, and writing for so long, when he/she realizes that they created a bad screenplay? After all of that time and effort very often a screenplay can still eventually result in a garbage end result – which is why screenwriting is such a difficult art form. So then how do you rationalize and justify so much time and hard work wasted and still make a movie that is bad? The only solution is to use your clout as a writer/director to call in favors from all of your friends to rescue what is a very bad script and ultimately a very bad movie. The thinking here is, let’s invite “ALL” of the most famous actors in Hollywood – to hopefully offset the inevitable bad reviews that will come out. Just maybe this strategy will rescue the box office, especially if you have Robert De Niro in this movie with a small part. De Niro agreed to make this movie because he was a major part of Silver Linings Playbook and Joy, which are two outstanding David O Russel films. De Niro respects and likes David O. Russel, so even after reading a very bad script, he agreed to make this bad movie, to help his friend. The other rationalization for the other actors is to do a favor for Russell, so maybe in the future, you would be considered for another major project.
Amsterdam is about 3 friends who meet during World War I and then become suspects in a murder in 1933. The story is told with disjointed flashbacks that start in 1933, then go back to World War I, and then back again to 1933. De Niro plays a politician who appears mostly at the end of this confusing disaster of a story. Not only is this mess boring and slow, it mostly is too convoluted, with too many characters, and too many sub-stories, resulting in a payoff that mostly makes no sense. After sitting through 2 hours of this, most of the audience is too deep in a coma to even care how all of this garbage turns out.
The list of big-name actors in this film is very long, including Taylor Swift, Chris Rock, Michael Shannon, Anya Taylor-Joy, Margot Robbie, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Rami Malek, Mike Myers, John David Washington and Christian Bale. This is probably the longest list of currently relevant actors appearing in the same movie – in many years. Unfortunately, all of these highly skilled actors will never be able to rescue any screenplay this bad.
The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this waste of two hours is a correct 33%, with my rating at 20% mainly because this was all so hard to sit through. Run from this bad movie experience which is a nightmare to watch.